Thursday, July 21, 2011

Peace and Harmony Gotta Go

In a May blog, Baby Chicks Part 2, I wrote about how two of the fertilized eggs a friend gave me had hatched.  Thelma, our Jersey Giant hen, raised them, giving us wonderful images of a mother hen and her two chicks clucking and peeping around the yard.  Since all our existing chickens were kept caged inside the first five weeks with heat lamps until their "big girl" feathers came in, it was nice to see the little fluffy peeps living as nature intended.
Mother Thelma with Fuzzy Peace and Harmony
The blond chick became white and as it learned to fly, would roost in a nearby tree instead of in the coop with the rest of the hens.  Last Christmas, I'd thrown out the white dove ornaments, deciding they were too chewed by cats to make it another year.  My husband Jay thought it'd be funny to decorate the small maple tree by the chicken coop with the doves (which have suspicious-looking hummingbird beaks; who ever heard of a Christmas hummingbird?).  This tactful display remained until the leaves came in this spring and the ornaments finally made it to their intended destination.  When the white chick started roosting in the same maple tree, the first thought was that she looked like a dove.  Every evening we looked in the tree where she perched about six feet up, got her down and put her safely in the coop with the rest of the flock.

Without names for the chicks and still hopeful that they were both girls, I thought of the name Peace for the white one.  I used to have a cat named Peace as a child, so named because I had a pony called Love.  I contemplated naming the dark chick Love, but then tried to come up with other names.  War, perhaps.  War and Peace.  Peace and Hope (hoping they were pullets or young hens).  Kelsey vetoed those ideas, suggesting instead that I call the other one Harmony.  Fine, Peace and Harmony it is. 

As Peace and Harmony developed I studied their combs and wattles.  If one had a redder or more pronounced head coloration, that one was likely male.  They looked the same.   With no young roos to compare them to, I declared they were either both pullets or both cockerals.  Ever optimistic, I still referred to them as "she". 

Chicks grow rapidly and the pullets (technically a hen under the age of one year is considered a pullet) can start laying as early as five months.  I couldn't remember how old our one former rooster, Shanaynay, was when he started crowing.  A crowing half-grown chick is a sure sign that you don't have a pullet.  Thelma decided she was done with child-rearing and began chasing her brood away, somewhat like a mother cat who's trying to wean her kittens.  Peace and Harmony hung out with one another, peeping at the bottom of the pecking order of the flock.

The other day Jay was outside when he heard a chicken commotion.  Peace and Harmony were fighting.  Down South, we'd say they were "rassling".  Previously, they would bump chests and play fight, but this time they were out for blood.   The other chickens circled around to watch, chanting, "Fight! Fight! Fight!"  Buffy, our most outgoing hen decided she'd apparently seen enough and barged in-between the two, breaking the fight up.  Peace had a cut on his head and was bleeding.  If we'd had any doubt that we had two little cockerals, the fight and Harmony's subsequent response cast all that doubt aside.  He crowed. 

Two-months-old and fighting already.  When we had Shanaynay, he didn't become aggressive until he was about a year old.  No way was I keeping Peace and Harmony when they were the exact opposite of their names already.  It may just be fighting each other now, but I could easily envision my legs becoming the next target.  I caged Harmony, made sure Peace's cuts were just superficial and immediately contacted my friend Lorraine who had given me the eggs.  I arranged to give the chicks back the next day where they could live out their lives on her farm.  If not in peace and harmony, at least where I don't have to deal with any little cockeral fights.

Harmony and Peace - a Major Misnomer

1 comment:

  1. If we'd had any doubt that we had two little cockerals, the fight and Harmony's subsequent response cast all that doubt aside. He crowed.

    It's a nit but I thought immature male chickens of less than a year's age are called cockerels.

    In any case, I think the crowing was the gender giveaway. As you know, blonde and brunette siblings are notorious for fighting at young ages, even females.